“The jungle smells of green… And of fear.”
THE STORY: The Old World faces off against the New as a young woman, Yaretzi, is rescued from the ill intent of conquistadors by Ich, a man who uses magical masks to transform himself into creatures of the jungle. Becoming the Bear, Ich violently dispatches of all but one of the Spanish soldiers, but Ich is wounded in the process. The lone surviver retreats back to a Spanish fort where he reports his ordeal back to Lord Errasquin and Friar Bustos, the men in governance of the Spanish colonial encampment. The men decide that this occurrence, in addition to previous supernatural happenings, warrants the commission of Sebastian De Loup, an infamous inquisitor for whom the ends justify the means, to come aid in the subjugation of the land and break the spirit of the indigenous population under the guise of Catholic expansion. However, De Loup is not what he seems and my possess supernatural predilections of his own.
Days later, Ich awakes to find that Yaretzi has helped healed his wounds using magic of her own. Unfortunately, while unconscious, Ich’s own village and people were destroyed by the onslaught of the conquering Spanish military. Broken hearted and unsure of what actions to take next, Ich decides to seek answers by embarking on a mushroom induced, hallucinogenic spirit journey.
THE SCRIBE: Luciano Saracen is an Argentinian author whom has written several prose novels, and is just now breaking into to realm of comics, or at least, Brutal Nature is one of the first comics that he’s had translated to English. He has a few books available on Amazon if anyone is interested in reading more of his works. Regardless of industry experience, Saracen lays out a well researched, entertaining script that delivers an extensive amount of information without convoluting the first issue, and make no mistake, there is a lot of information to process in this first issue. Saracen quickly gives readers a basic sense of character development with out making them one dimensional bots. In just a few lines of dialogue, he establishes a history for both the protagonists’ and the antagonists that balances the scale between obfuscation and an information dump. In a time where comics are filled with anti-heroes and relatable villains, the author is able to establish this story as a “good vs. evil” tale without the plot seeming stale, predictable, or dated. IDW would do well to cultivate a relationship with Mr. Saracen and, as a reader, I look forward to seeing what more he has to offer.
THE STYLE: Ariel Olivetti doesn’t need much of an introduction. He’s a heavy hitter on the art side of the comic industry who has worked with almost all of the major publishers, and is best known for his Marvel work, having done the art for series like Cable, X-Man, and Punisher. His unique style layers light-handed pencils over backgrounds that seem to be edited digital photographs, which often come off looking like poorly rendered computer games of the mid-90’s, or cartoons, like Transformers: Beast Wars, that were produced during the adolescent phases of digital animation. However, don’t misconstrue description as judgement. Olivetti’s panels are a narrative voice of their own, telling the reader as much, if not more, than every thought bubble and text box. So much of the detail in his images are found in his use of color in leu of hard lines, which is a perk that can only be delivered when an artist colors his own pencils. He also uses the negative space of his panel layouts to emphasize the drama of the page in a way reminisces Frank Miller’s independent works, but in color.
The Sentence: B+ At it’s heart, Brutal Nature is a narrative that builds upon the horrors inflicted up indigenous cultures during the time of European colonization all over the world. Without detail, the plot structure is one that can be found the world over, from the Americas to Africa to Australia, and has a direct affect on the world today. This particular story finds us on the western portion of South America, most likely Peru, where the Spanish have established a foot-hold and are building upon their empire, with little to no regard for the native peoples or knowledge of their cultures. The issue itself is equal parts horror novella, historical fiction, and burgeoning love story that end in a cliff hanger that will have readers checking the shelves of local comic shops week after week for the continuation of this four part series from IDW. The dialogue struggles with simplicity on several occasions, but this is a minor fault that most likely stems from being translated to English as a second language.